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5 All the Way with Adlai

Ray E. Boomhower Indiana University Press ePub

ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1952, JOHN BARTLOW MARTIN AND his wife, Fran, took their daughter, Cindy, to dinner in downtown Chicago at the Pump Room at the Ambassador East Hotel to celebrate her tenth birthday, which fell on February 5. Later that evening the family adjourned to the apartment of a friend, well-to-do Chicago attorney Louis A. Kohn, whom Martin had met through his friendship with two other lawyers, John Voelker and Raymond Friend. Kohn had been an important part of the team that had elected Adlai Stevenson to the Illinois governorship in 1948 and had been encouraging Martin to edit a book of speeches Stevenson had made as governor that would also include a long biographical introduction about the Democratic Party’s rising star. “I presumed he [Kohn] hoped to use the book in Stevenson’s forthcoming campaign for reelection as governor,” Martin recalled.1

During that winter, however, there were many political pundits who believed that Stevenson might run for the presidency, as President Harry Truman, beset by abysmal ratings in public opinion polls (only 32 percent of Americans approved of the job he was doing), seemed unlikely to run for re-election. Although Stevenson had used Martin’s story about the Centralia mine disaster to attack his opponent, incumbent Dwight H. Green, in the 1948 gubernatorial campaign, Martin had never before met Stevenson, whose fifty-second birthday was also on February 5. Stevenson joined the gathering at Kohn’s apartment and he and Cindy together cut a birthday cake made by Kohn’s wife. “I remember feeling awed by him,” said Cindy Martin Coleman years later. “He was, after all, the governor of the state of Illinois.” She still remembered how happy he seemed and his “smiling eyes.”2

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6 The Voters Speak

Ray E. Boomhower Indiana University Press ePub

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The Voters Speak

On a spring day in 1968, residents of northwest Indiana were treated to a rare sight. In a caravan of automobiles that swept along city streets could be seen icons of the past and the present. One was a boxer, the son of Polish immigrants from Gary, Indiana, who had risen to become middleweight champion of the world, earning for himself the nickname “The Man of Steel” both for the place of his birth and his ability to take the punishment handed out by his opponents in the ring. The other man had also traveled a hard road to success, winning a place in the state’s history as its first African American mayor. From their very different backgrounds, Tony Zale, the boxer, and Richard G. Hatcher, the mayor of Gary, were brought together by Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign to win the Indiana primary. The two heroes of the region joined Kennedy in a motorcade through the streets of Gary on May 6, the day before Hoosier voters trooped to the polls. They represented Kennedy’s attempt to bridge the gap between whites and African Americans and bring both into a coalition that could win elections for the Democratic Party. “We have to write off the unions and the South now,” Kennedy told a reporter, “and replace them with Negroes, blue-collar whites, and the kids. If we can do that, we’ve got a chance to do something.”1

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Appendix: Robert F. Kennedy’s Speech in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968

Ray E. Boomhower Indiana University Press ePub

Appendix: Robert F. Kennedy’s
Speech in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some very sad news for all of you. Could you lower those signs, please? I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort.

In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black—considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible—you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization—black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

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2 The Decision

Ray E. Boomhower Indiana University Press ePub

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The Decision

Very early in the morning on Friday, March 22, 1968, Gerard Doherty, a Boston attorney, stepped off a plane that had just landed at Indianapolis’s Weir Cook Municipal Airport. At the behest of Ted Kennedy, U.S. senator from Massachusetts, he had left Washington in a snowstorm to come to Indiana to investigate whether there might be enough support for Robert Kennedy to run in the state’s May 7 Democratic primary. Five days earlier, Robert Kennedy had announced his intention to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Doherty, the former chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, was up against a tight deadline: just one week later all candidates for the Hoosier State primary had to submit to the secretary of state’s office the signatures of 5,500 registered voters—500 signatures from each of Indiana’s eleven congressional districts.

Before flying to Indianapolis, Doherty had stopped at the new Kennedy for President campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C., to be briefed on his assignment. Days earlier, after hearing that Robert Kennedy had decided to run for president, he had called Ted Kennedy’s office to volunteer his services. “I had just returned to the law business and I was chasing after ambulances,” Doherty recalled. “But, I said, I’m not going to … take apart paper clips and put them back together. Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do, but it has to be meaningful.” Doherty got his wish. He flew on to Indianapolis expecting to be “greeted by thousands of cheering people”—the multitudes needed to run a successful political campaign. When he arrived, however, he soon discovered he could initially only count on the assistance of three young Hoosier Democrats: Michael Riley, Louie Mahern, and William Schreiber.1

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3 Two Cents a Word

Ray E. Boomhower Indiana University Press ePub

AT THE NORTHWEST CORNER OF RUSH STREET AND GRAND Avenue in Chicago, the 217-room Milner Hotel, part of the coast-to-coast empire of 130 units in twenty-six states owned by company founder Earle Milner, offered the tired traveling businessman and tourist basic lodging at a reasonable price – “A Room and a Bath for a Dollar-and-a-Half,” boasted the chain’s motto. It was at the Milner that John Bartlow Martin resided when he returned to Chicago from Indianapolis in the fall of 1938. In addition to the Milner’s inexpensive rates (five dollars a week on a monthly basis), its management paid the cab fare from the railroad station for guests and also provided them free laundry service. “It suited me fine,” said Martin. “I had nothing but one suitcase and a portable typewriter. I had a room with a bed and through the dirty window a view of the fire escape.”1

After escaping from his depressing Indianapolis childhood, Martin was thrilled to be in a vibrant and colorful city and delighted in its “freewheeling, go-getting” spirit. While a high school student, he had wandered with a friend though Indianapolis’s scanty slums, disappointed they were so small, while in Chicago “there were acres and acres of them, all mine.” Martin even enjoyed the noisy traffic on Outer Drive and Western Avenue, the sound of the elevated trains as they “roared by overhead on the wondrous El, reared against the sky,” and the bright lights of Randolph Street’s theater district. “There was nothing like this in Indiana,” he said. As he had while a young student at DePauw University, Martin, suddenly single, behaved foolishly for a time, sleeping most of the day, writing at night, and drinking beer while he worked. He soon discovered, however, that he could not keep up such a lifestyle and make a living, and he fell into a regular routine he followed for years to come, writing from nine in the morning to five in the evening and avoiding alcohol during those hours.2

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